5 Benefits of Massage and Massage Therapy
Have you ever felt you’ve enough pressure in life that a massage therapy is just the right answer to energize you back? Massage therapy is an effective tool to aid you take control of your well-being and health.
Massage therapy is the most popular alternative therapy in Canada.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey conducted by Fraser Institute showed that in 2016, massage was the most popular type of alternative therapy used by Canadians over their lifetime with 44 percent having tried it. According to the Fraser Institute survey, Canadians chose massage as a complementary and alternative therapy for “wellness”.
Massage therapy is a several-thousand-year-old tradition.
Massage therapy is a type of treatment in which soft body tissues like the skin and muscles are manipulated through various pressures and movement. It dates back to thousands of years in ancient civilization. The earliest written record about massage therapy is from the Chinese book entitled “ Huangdi Neijing. The book’s format is a dialogue between Chinese emperor Huangdi around 2600 BC and his physician in which the emperor asks about the nature of health, disease and treatment.
While the book features Huangdi, many believe that the emperor is a semi-mythical figure, and the book possibly dates back around 300 BC and may be a collection of the writings of several authors. The Huangdi Neijing book enjoys a widespread influence even today as its basic ideas about the custom and practice of medicine, including the benefits of massage therapy, remain valid even to this day.
Here are the 5 benefits of massage and massage therapy:
Massage therapy relieves stress.
A small dose of stress is good for us, encouraging us to perform well. When we’re stressed out, our brain signals our body to release hormones that raise our blood pressure and increase our heart rate. Once the stressor is gone, our blood pressure and heart rate return to normal. This stress-coping mechanism called “fight-or-flight” was first described by Walter Cannon in the book “Bodily Changes In Pain Hunger Fear And Rage” published in 1915.
The presence of constant stressors, however, like sitting in traffic for long periods, with added concerns of relationship issues and bills to pay can lead to serious health problems like exhaustion.
Results of the study called “Effects of a 10-minute back rub on cardiovascular responses in healthy subjects” showed that a 10-minute back massage is effective in inducing relaxation as this alternative therapy decreases the volume of oxygen that our body utilizes each minute, as well as decreases the volume of carbon dioxide that we breathe out after transporting oxygen through our body.
Massage therapy boosts immune system function.
Our immune system does a great job in defending our body from disease-causing microorganisms or substances. But now and then our immune system fails us. A disease-causing microorganism can successfully invade our immune system and makes us sick.
Results of the study called Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapyshowed that women with stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer may benefit from thrice-weekly massage therapy by enhancing dopamine, serotonin and white blood cell – all responsible for enhancing the immune system function.
Another study called A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals showed that a single session of Swedish massage therapy in healthy individuals enhanced immune system function.
Massage therapy helps relieve pain.
According to Fraser Institute’s 2016 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey, the most common health conditions reported by Canadians were back pain and neck pain. While, on average, 72 percent of respondents experiencing back or neck pain sought medical attention for their health problem, Fraser Institute reported that more than three-quarters of Canadians (79%) had used at least one alternative therapy – which include massage therapy – sometime in their lives in 2016.
The study called Massage therapy helps to increase range of motion, decrease pain and assist in healing a client with low back pain and sciatica symptoms showed the effectiveness of massage therapy as a component in increasing range of motion and decreasing low back pain.
Another study called Randomized Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain found that therapeutic massage “is safe and may have clinical benefits for treating chronic neck pain at least in the short term.”
Massage therapy benefits those participating in exercise programs.
Regular physical activity or exercise has been proven to improve health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity increases your chances of living longer, controls your weight, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, improves your ability to do daily activities and improves your mental health and mood.
More and more people participating in exercise programs, including professional and collegiate athletes, have turned to massage therapy in order to:
- Prevent injuries
- Reduce muscle tension
- Decrease muscle stiffness
- Improve exercise performance
- Decrease delayed onset muscle soreness
- Reduce swelling
- Enhance athletic performance
Massage therapy boosts mental health.
Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
A key aspect of mental health is anger management. Anger in itself isn’t problematic – it’s how we handle it that’s an issue. The study called The Effects of Massage Therapy & Exercise Therapy on Children/Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorderfound that adolescents previously diagnosed with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) after 6 weeks of massage therapy were better in anger control, improved mood, more restful sleep, improved in social functioning and improved focusing at school.
For thousands of years, people have benefited from massage therapy. This alternative therapy is, however, not appropriate if you have:
- Severe osteoporosis
- Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Severe thrombocytopenia